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Manchester alderman calls for city to hire city manager

Manchester Vice Mayor Bill Nickels urged members of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen to consider hiring a city manager to conduct the day-to-day business of the city of Manchester.

During a work session Tuesday night before the board’s regular meeting, Nickels contended that without a city manager, the city cannot operate in a “professional” manner, but is operating in a “political” manner.

Nickels added that, in his view, hiring a city manager was not a choice the board should make, but the responsibility of the board.

“We are one of the few cities in the state, if not the only one, that thinks we cannot have a city manager for some reason,” said Nickels.  “Every other city has decided it is beneficial to have a professional form of government rather than a political form of government. I maintain that back in the day we had too many crooked people in government. They didn’t want people seeing what was going on, so it didn’t work.”

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The “back in the day” era that Nickels was referring to was the very early 2000s, the last time Manchester had a city manager. Nickels also contended that having one person in charge of the city instead of a mayor and multiple aldermen, would make responsibilities more clear and life easier on department heads.

Currently, the mayor of Manchester is serving as a default City Manager.

“Could you imagine the street department without a director, or the school system without a director,” added Nickels. “Yet, we think the whole city is doing fine without [a director].”

Alderman Bob Bellamy presented concerns about a return to having a city manager after having one did not work well in years past. Alderman Ryan French mentioned that this person would need to have significant Economic and Community Development background and the ability to perform the job of a city manager and an ECD director. No aldermen expressly spoke out firmly against the idea.

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Most city’s in the area have city managers, including McMinnville, Tullahoma and Shelbyville.

Mayor Lonnie Norman encouraged the board return to the table to hammer out more details, such as a job description, compensation and other specifics before a vote was held that could lead to a search.

There is currently a position for city manager in the city charter.  

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